The No. 22 Penske Racing Ford of Brad Keselowski retook the lead for good with 15 laps remaining in the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday on his way to the race win.
With his sixth series win of the season, Keselowski also retook the Owners' points lead from Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 54 Toyota team after Kyle Busch, driving the No. 54 car, spun and ran through the infield grass because of a tire issue on lap 110.
"I thought the 54 was the car to beat most of the weekend," Keselowski said. "Like I said, (crew chief) Jeremy Bullins and the team worked on it and got it right at the end."
The No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Denny Hamlin finished second in Hamlin's first Nationwide start of 2013. Keselowski's Penske teammate, Sam Hornish Jr. in the No. 12 Ford, finished third to cut into Austin Dillon's drivers' championship lead. Dillon, in the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, finished fifth, just the behind the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Matt Kenseth.
Hornish had trouble on pit road in the first half of the race that resulted in him falling off the lead lap. He took a wave around during the first caution of the race to get back on the lead lap and a well-timed caution when he planned to pit on lap 110 kept him on the lead lap and back on the same cycle as the front runners.
"Pit road comes up pretty quick, and I got a little locked up as soon as I got on the brakes and did everything I could do to try to get it whoaed up and had a choice of hitting the cone or the back of the 54 car. I figured the cone would hurt the front of my car a lot less. It was a great recovery by everyone that works on the Wurth Ford Mustang, and we did what we needed to do today. We got ourselves back up there in position to run for the win and over-tightened the car by the time we got to that point."
Keselowski dominated the first third of the race, taking the lead on lap six of the 200-lap race. In all he was credited with leading 106 laps of the 200-lap event. After taking the lead for the first time, he continued to run up front until a call to take fuel only during the first caution of the race that came out on lap 70 resulted in Keselowski losing several positions to those who took tires.
Keselowski drifted as far back as eighth as the JGR duo of Kenseth and Hamlin dominated the first two spots in the running order. Kenseth and Hamlin both spent time in the lead before a caution on lap 110 saw all lead lap cars head down pit road for four tires.
On similar tires as everyone else, Keselowski moved back toward the front, taking second from Hamlin on lap 148 and then the lead from Kenseth on lap 156. After running first and second for several laps, Keselowski and Kenseth both waiting until the end of a green-flag pit cycle to make their stops. Both drivers encountered problems on pit road, allowing Hamlin to retake the lead. Once out in front, Hamlin was able to hold off everyone except Keselowski, losing the lead to the No. 22 in the final 20 laps.
"We have been really close but never finished it off, but today we had the car to do it and the guys did a great job executing," Keselowski said of his first-career win at Texas. "We had a good battle with Denny Hamlin and finished out front."
Finishing sixth through 10th were the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet of Regan Smith, the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Elliott Sadler, the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Brian Scott, the No. 32 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet of Kyle Larson and the No. 5 JR Motorsports Chevrolet of Brad Sweet.